After a winter cooped up at home, there is no better feeling than basking in the warm sun on your boat. It’s tempting to immediately jump aboard and cruise out onto the Atlantic or your favorite lake, but there are a few things you need to do before you leave the dock to ensure the safety of you and your passengers.
The National Safe Boating Council is raising awareness of safe boating and the importance of life jackets through their North American Safe Boating Campaign, Wear It!
Listed below are suggested safety and maintenance tips. By following them, you and your water-loving friends and family can enjoy each others company on the open water.
Safe Boating Tips and Procedures
1. Complete a full inspection of your boat
Before boarding, be sure to check your engine for any leaks or issues, check all electrical conductors and features, ensure lights are functioning and that wiring or appliances are not damaged. The U.S. Coast Guard also provides free vessel safety examinations.
2. Fuel up
Check the fuel levels of your boat and add what is needed. When filling portable tanks, only add fuel on the dock and never on the deck of your boat.
3. Prevent fires on board
Inspect fuel hoses and evacuate any fumes or vapors that may have gone into the bilge, the lowest section inside the boat. Your boat should be equipped with a U.S. Coast Guard approved, marine-type fire extinguisher at all times in the event of a liquid fire from gasoline, oil, or grease.
4. Test radio devices and develop a float plan
Assure that your radio devices are functioning properly. We recommend creating a float plan and informing a friend or relative of your travel plans and expected time of return.
5. Look up the forecast and stay alert for weather changes
New England is known for its unpredictable weather, especially during the summer. Do not venture out if thunderstorms, fog, or high winds are a possibility in the forecast. If the weather changes for the worse while boating, return to shore as quickly and safely as possible.
6. Always wear and provide life jackets
According to the U.S. Coast Guard, drowning was the reported cause of death in three-fourths of recreational boating fatalities in 2014. 84% of those who drowned were not wearing life jackets. All passengers must wear fitted life jackets and your boat should have additional flotation devices in case of an emergency.
7. Wear non-slip shoes
Slipping or falling overboard can be prevented with the proper footwear and gear.
8. Properly dock the boat
We recommend preparing bumpers, mooring lines, and hooks before docking as you return from a fun and safe day out on the water. Passengers should remain seated while docking and the engine should be turned off as passengers disembark from the boat.
9. Never operate a boat under the influence
It is illegal to operate a boat while under the influence of alcohol or drugs in every state and this applies to all types of boats, from canoes to large ships. To avoid these risks, the primary and backup operators on board should not consume any alcoholic beverages before or during operation of the boat.
10. Educate your passengers about safety procedures
Before your outing with passengers, inform them of the location of the fire extinguisher, how to properly use radio devices as well as the necessary steps to safely evacuate the boat in case of emergency. As a reminder, don’t forget to have everyone put on a life jacket before boarding!
And finally… make sure you have Watercraft Insurance before you leave the dock! Watercraft insurance, regardless of the waters you are navigating, is specifically designed for the watercraft owner and vessel. That coverage can include:
- Collision insurance
- Boat liability insurance
- On-craft medical coverage
- Towing and assistance costs
By following safety tips, you, your family and friends should have fun without worry all summer long. Enjoy your marine adventures!
Want to learn more about the best ways to insure your boat? Contact at any time: 800-333-7234 or by visiting our website.